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Miriam Rotkin-Ellman, Scientist, San Francisco

Miriam Rotkin-Ellman

I'm a scientist with training in environmental sciences and public health. I spent the first part of my education and career studying how people impact the environment and then came full circle to understand how our environment impacts us. Before coming to the Bay Area for graduate school, I worked for the New Mexico Environment Department protecting drinking water resources from industrial, domestic, and agricultural pollution. This work took me to small towns and communities from the US/Mexico border to the edge of the Navajo Nation – a far cry from the urban streets of Brooklyn where I grew up. Since then, I have worked in many more communities struggling with environmental burdens, from the lower 9th ward in New Orleans to families living next door to major industrial facilities. As a scientist, one of my jobs is to help document what the folks living in these communities already know: that the air they breathe, the water they drink and the safety of places they live and work are crucial to their health. The other is to help ensure that this information is turned into action that protects communities. What I like most about my job is researching questions that matter to people. Whether it’s the health impacts from global warming, cleaning up industrial pollution from refineries and cement plants, or the safety of products to use in the home, there are people’s lives that depend on us getting it right.

Recent Posts

Huge Gas Leak in Porter Ranch: A Sobering Reminder of the Health Threats from Oil and Gas in California

Posted January 5, 2016 by Miriam Rotkin-Ellman

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As the natural gas storage facility in the Porter Ranch neighborhood of Los Angeles continues to spew gas for nearly three months, the human face of this environmental disaster becomes even more pressing. As of today, close to 2,000 residents...continued

Getting Rid of Toxic Flea Collars: Will EPA Finally Follow the Science?

Posted December 23, 2015 by Miriam Rotkin-Ellman

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Dog and cat lovers are still waiting for the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to protect their families from the neurotoxic pesticide tetrachlorvinphos (TCVP), found in flea collars and other flea control products. Despite the fact that TCVP is known...continued

Toxic Secrets: New Report Shows Fracking Gag Rules Threaten Public Health

Posted October 14, 2015 by Miriam Rotkin-Ellman

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Nobody wants to be kept in the dark about their health, or the health of their loved ones. And when it comes to keeping people healthy and safe from toxic chemicals, lack of information can cause a lot of damage,...continued

Scientists prescribe a long to-do list to improve safety of fracking in California

Posted July 10, 2015 by Miriam Rotkin-Ellman

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After two years and more than 2,000 pages, the Independent Scientific Assessment of Well Stimulation in California found that the state has a long way to go make oil and gas production safer for communities and the environment. The Summary...continued

Preventing Pollution Protects Kids and Would Save California Billions!

Posted June 17, 2015 by Miriam Rotkin-Ellman

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The findings of today's groundbreaking report by the Public Health Institute and the California Environment Health Tracking Program give new meaning to the old saying: "An ounce of prevention equals a pound of cure." When they analyzed how environmental hazards...continued

New Year: NRDC Still Fighting for the Safety of our Pets and Kids

Posted January 5, 2015 by Miriam Rotkin-Ellman

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Unfortunately, there's not much "new" from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) when it comes to protecting kids and pets from toxic chemicals in the New Year. Which is why, today, we are filing a lawsuit asking the Court to tell...continued

More Fracking Fumes: Studies Repeatedly Find Unsafe Levels of Air Pollution Near Fracking Sites

Posted December 16, 2014 by Miriam Rotkin-Ellman

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Science is about identifying patterns.  A single study finding unsafe levels of a contaminant raises concern, but when the results of multiple studies start to converge the science is telling us we have a problem.  Over the past year, at...continued

Burden of the Boom: Who Will Pay the Price for Fracking in California?

Posted October 22, 2014 by Miriam Rotkin-Ellman

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From polluted skies to contaminated drinking water and hazardous waste, communities of color in California get way more than their fair share.  If the oil and gas industry gets their way, drilling – and the environmental and health threats from...continued

Reading, Writing, and ...Toxic Pesticides?

Posted August 27, 2014 by Miriam Rotkin-Ellman

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Parents worry about plenty of things when they send their kids to school: first- day jitters, making friends, bullying … But exposure to toxic chemicals isn’t usually on the list of “back to school” worries. Perhaps it should be, though....continued

Mounting Evidence that EPA Must Curb Toxic Air Pollution from Fracking Sites

Posted May 13, 2014 by Miriam Rotkin-Ellman

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Hydraulic fracturing (fracking), and other extraction technologies, can increase harmful air pollution. Also, by opening up new areas to oil and gas drilling, expansion of this industry is bringing harmful contaminants to backyards, communities, and cities.  These contaminants, which include...continued

EPA on Flea Collars - Right Action, Wrong Timing

Posted March 14, 2014 by Miriam Rotkin-Ellman

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After more than six years of trying to get unsafe flea collars off the store shelves, I wish I was celebrating today.  The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) announcement of an agreement with flea collar manufacturers to phase out their products...continued

No More Poisonous Pets: EPA's Delay on Flea Collars Threatens Our Kids

Posted February 6, 2014 by Miriam Rotkin-Ellman

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Have you ever watched a kid around a dog or cat? It is often a love and cuddle fest. They press their small faces into the pet’s fur; their arms encircle the pet in long hugs; their hands stroke, grab...continued

New Study Finds Worrisome Pattern of Birth Defects in Fracking Communities

Posted February 4, 2014 by Miriam Rotkin-Ellman

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Science has long known that the developing fetus is sensitive to experiences of the mother – alcohol consumption, dietary factors, and mercury exposure are some of the more well-known examples.  This sensitivity makes newborn babies an early indicator of something...continued

Still Fuming: New EPA Natural Gas Rules Leave Communities at Risk

Posted April 18, 2012 by Miriam Rotkin-Ellman

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued two urgently needed standards that will limit dangerous air pollution from natural gas wells including those that are hydraulically fractured (“fracked”).  These rules are an improvement over the status quo but fall short of...continued

BP Oil Disaster Two Years Later: Check-up on Health

Posted April 18, 2012 by Miriam Rotkin-Ellman

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It’s been two years since the BP oil disaster brought horrific scenes of oil slicks, dead wildlife, contaminated beaches, and devastated fishing communities into our living rooms.  But, for many people on the Gulf Coast, the nightmare continued long after...continued

About

Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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